There is no doubt that a pistol is the great equalizer when someone is looking to protect themselves. In this day and age, it is not uncommon to be targeted and possibly attacked for a number or reasons. Law enforcement is guaranteed to be minutes away when seconds count. That is why more people than ever are carrying a firearm. Due to this, we have seen an explosion of companies selling holsters to support people’s right to self-preservation. Carrying a pistol in the appendix position has gained a lot of traction among those who have started carrying concealed. Let’s dive into what appendix inside the waistband, or AIWB, is all about and see if we can find the best appendix carry holster that is right for you.
If you do not have time for the details, here are our top picks for the best appendix carry holster:
- 1Bravo Concealment IWB Torsion 3.0
- 2Hidden Hybrid Holsters
- 3Fierce Defender +1 AIWB Kydex Holster
- 4Black Arch Entrada
- 5G-Code Haley Strategic Incog Half Guard IWB Tuckable Holster
- 6Vedder Holster LightTuck
- 7We The People Holsters
- 8OUTBAGS LOB2S-G26 Brown Genuine Leather
- 9Raven Concealment VG2 Holster
- 10Sticky Holster
Table of Contents
- What is AIWB?
- Why Appendix Carry?
- How to Choose the Right Appendix Holster?
- Top AIWB Holsters Companies
- Best Appendix Carry Holster on the Market Review
- 1 Bravo Concealment IWB Torsion 3.0
- 2 Hidden Hybrid Holsters
- 3 Fierce Defender +1 AIWB Kydex Holster
- 4 Black Arch Entrada
- 5 G-Code Haley Strategic Incog Half Guard IWB Tuckable Holster
- 6 Vedder Holster LightTuck
- 7 We The People Holsters
- 8 OUTBAGS LOB2S-G26 Brown Genuine Leather
- 9 Raven Concealment VG2 Holster
- 10 Sticky Holster
- How to Carry AIWB Safely?
- AIWB vs IWB
What is AIWB?
Appendix Inside the Waistband, or AIWB, is the method of concealed carry that places the firearm along your abdomen or near your appendix. Some would also call this the 12 or 1 o’clock positions of carrying. Whatever you wish to call it, this method of carrying has earned praise and condemnation among the firearms community. Most of the condemnation comes from the misunderstanding of how to properly employ it. Ironically, while it is seen as a fad it has actually been around for a very long time. Regardless of your position on carrying appendix, it has steadily become one of the more popular ways to carry for several different reasons.
Why Appendix Carry?
To better understand AIWB and how to employ it, it is best to discuss the benefits of carrying this way. First, and without a doubt, drawing from concealment at the appendix position is fast than other methods. Your arm’s natural tendency is to rest closer to your thighs than the sides of your body. This means your hands are inherently closer to your firearm allowing you to draw quicker. In addition, it is more convenient for your arms to move in a vertical axis as you would in appendix carry rather than behind the hip carry.
Next, you do not have to twist or contort your body to ensure you are getting a proper grip. Carrying in the 3 or 4 o’clock positions reduces your economy of movement by uncovering your shirt, rotating your body, properly gripping your pistol and starting the draw stroke. All this movement increases your chances of not getting a proper grip. Which means your accuracy could suffer greatly if your grip isn’t exactly how you practice it.
Third, you are better able to protect your pistol from an assailant in the appendix position. Your ability to keep people away from your firearm while you are square to your attacker is far easier than from an oblique angle.
Finally, and the most compelling reason to carry appendix is due to the ease of concealment. Many have found AIWB holsters allow for better concealment without having to wear a hoodie or coat. Carrying a pistol on the hip can cause printing issues as the holster may move from merely walking around or getting up from a table. Finding the right holster is the most important aspect when trying to conceal at the appendix position. However, once you find the right holster for your pistol, concealment will become very intuitive.
How to Choose the Right Appendix Holster?
There are several factors that you will need to consider when choosing an AIWB holster. Things you’re your body type, the features you need, the typical clothes you wear, and the type of pistol you choose to carry to list a few. One misconception is that carrying AIWB is uncomfortable and that is simply not true if you fit your set-up to you. For people who have a smaller frame, carrying appendix is really not an issue and most AIWB holsters will work regardless the type of pistol they carry. However, larger people, or those of us that carry a little extra weight, might have to find a holster that has added features to be comfortable and still conceal well.
Concealment claws and holster wedges are features that you will want to look for in a holster or consider adding after the fact. A concealment claw is a “L” shaped piece, usually made of kydex, that presses against the inside of your pant waistline to force the pistol grip closer to your body. The holster wedge is a piece of cushioned material that is applied to the back of the holster. This will help to relieve pressure against your abdomen. Both are optional but can really increase the concealability, comfort, and utility of your holster.
Carrying AIWB doesn’t require you to change the way you dress. For the most part, you should be able to wear what you typically might on any given day. However, if you are used to wearing sweat or yoga pants, you may want to find a holster that has an Ulti-clip. Other options are holsters made of material that will naturally grip your clothes will also help conceal a pistol while wearing pants without a belt.
Finally, you may need to reconsider the type of pistol you want to carry. Some may have no issue concealing a full framed pistol like a 1911, Glock 17, S&W M&P 9, or others. But, there may be a need to consider downsizing to a compact pistol like a Glock 19 or possibly a sub-compact pistol like a Sig Sauer P365, Glock 43, Sig Sauer P239/P938, or S&W M&P Shield. Reducing the size of your concealed carry pistol will help in mitigating printing and possibly a more comfortable experience when carrying throughout the day.
Top AIWB Holsters Companies
If you’re the type that likes dessert before the main course, here is our list of best AIWB holsters. This list will have holsters that are not only affordable, but also available the moment you purchase it. Companies like T-Rex Arms, Tier 1 Concealment, and others are great manufacturers and have innovative designs. However, what they lack is affordability and availability. In some cases, you may have to wait 2-6 weeks for a holster. In addition, you may pay $120+ and purchase a stand-in holster in the interim. This list hopes to bypass both of those concerns.
Best Appendix Carry Holster on the Market Review
As mentioned, there are plenty of companies that may not be listed below. While those companies not listed may be better, the below brands will have immediate availability at a price that almost anyone can afford. Those other top tier manufacturers can arguably have better products will also normally have a lead time and cost upwards of $120, or more. This will lead to added frustration as your holster is delayed or you have to buy an in-between holster while you wait. However, here is the list of holsters that will give you quality at an affordable price.
1 Bravo Concealment IWB Torsion 3.0
Founded in 2012, Bravo Concealment is of the most trusted names in kydex holsters. The popularity was garnered by providing a quality product at an affordable price. Their holsters use the best kydex available and technology to create a holster that provides comfort, fit and concealability. Their focus on customer service ensures you are 100% satisfied or get a refund with their 30-day money back guarantee and an unlimited lifetime warranty. No matter the reason, they will refund or replace your holster should there be any issues and you are not completely satisfied.
The Torsion 3.0 is the newest IWB will accommodate most popular pistols on the market today. Its innovative design not only contours your body but will also assist in preventing printing. The Torsion 3.0 integrates a 10-degree forward angle for better draws and re-holstering with robust 1.5” injection molded belt clips.
2 Hidden Hybrid Holsters
Hidden Hybrid Holsters (HHH) is the best hybrid holster on the market. Their reputation of producing a holster with a rigid kydex front for good positive retention and comfortable high-quality leather backing is challenged by few. Using Amish leather with a suede backing to lock the holster exactly where you want it increases the comfort compared to other holsters. Much like Bravo Concealment, HHH was started in a garage because the founder, Dave Kerry, was not happy with the options that were available. So, he took matters in his own hands and decided to create what he thought would be the most comfortable and functional holster on the market. Regardless if you have a j frame revolver, a Glock 43 or a 1911 there is no doubt that Dave Kerry succeeded in his goal.
Mark Grimsley with his Hidden Hybrid Holster AIWB
Using a proprietary method of forming the kydex around the pistol to ensure excellent retention. In addition, Hidden Hybrid ensures full trigger coverage for safety and fully adjustable retention screws for the correct passive retention for what you need. Ultimately, the HHH IWB holster will be a great option for concealed carry that will be an easy fit and functional.
3 Fierce Defender +1 AIWB Kydex Holster
Fierce Defenders are not known by many; however, they were founded and continue to operate with concealed carry in mind. They pride themselves on ensuring you have a holster that is going to take care of the pistol you decide to carry. Their +1 holster is their ultimate AIWB rig. It allows you to not only carry a pistol with an attached light, but also provides you an integrated magazine holster. This keeps all your CCW gear in the same area. This is crucial in providing you efficiency of movement by always reaching for your equipment from the same area.
The +1 offers a contoured design for comfort and dual belt clips to secure the holster exactly where you want it. A concealment claw is also designed into the holster for additional printing mitigation. One downside to these types of holsters is the bridging material between the pistol and magazine holsters will constantly be in a mode of flexing. Over time, this can cause the holster to crack under the strain of your body’s continuous movement. To mitigate this, Fierce Defender offers a 100-year warranty for every holster they sell should have any manufacturer defects.
4 Black Arch Entrada
Based out of Logan, Utah, Black Arch Holsters look to provide selection, speed of service and quality. The Entrada is a great example of Black Arch’s charter. The design of the Entrada has a similar concept to the Fierce Defender +1 with one major difference. Instead of using kydex to bridge the pistol and magazine portions of the holster, they use durable but flexible pieces to connect the pistol and magazine holsters together. This bit of innovation is beneficial on a couple different levels. First, it allows for additional comfort by better contouring to your body. Next, the holster will not have issues with cracking on the bridging material.
Much like the Fierce Defender +1 holster, this will naturally allow you to carry a pistol and magazine together in the same package. Again, this helps in protecting and co-locating your firearm with additional ammunition. This holster will also come equipped with a concealment claw to reduce printing and rounding off a sleek design. Black Arch ensured you have the ability to adjust the ride height for added comfort. This is definitely a holster to look into if you’re interested in a pistol/mag rig.
5 G-Code Haley Strategic Incog Half Guard IWB Tuckable Holster
G-Code has taken a different approach to comfort and kydex holsters. Partnering with Haley Strategic, the Incog was developed with provide a holster with minimum bulk, deep concealment, and capable of different carrying angles. The Incog uses a suede type of material to surround the holster for additional comfort and reduction in irritation from the abrasive kydex.
Their biggest selling point with design of the Incog is the user’s ability to get a full, proper grip of the pistol prior to drawing. The belt clips have a negative angle that forces the holster to hug your body. They also have several mounting points to get consistent and repeatable positioning on your belt. This holster will maximize function regardless of body size, position preference or your type of employment tactics.
6 Vedder Holster LightTuck
Vedder Holsters is a rising start in the holster business. Their name as become more prevalent as their popularity as grown. The reason to Vedder’s rise is due to their selection of holsters available for a wide variety of pistols. In addition, Vedder produces durable and handcrafted holsters that ship within 3 days. The patent pending spring steel clip on the LightTuck allows for nearly zero printing and is extremely tuckable. The LightTuck also has an awesome design with rounded edges for as much comfort as possible.
One of the great aspects to this holster is its versatility. The LightTuck’s design allows for it to be used as a holster in any position. While most people may use it as a standard IWB holster, it is also adequately capable as an AIWB. The holster’s adjustable ride height adds to its versatility by placing the holster exactly where you want it. Weighing only a few ounces, this holster is great for those who are looking for a minimalist piece of gear.
7 We The People Holsters
Another minimalist holster design comes from We The People. Their inside the waistband holster share similar traits to the Vedder LightTuck holster. Like the LightTuck it is small, lightweight, and capable of being carried at various positions. We The People is capable of providing a holster for just about any pistol and light combination.
The holster’s major appeal is the 1.5” wide belt clip that ensures it stays where you want it. The smooth edges allow for good comfort and the adjustable cant and ride will allow for flexibility no matter how you want to carry. We The People also offers their holsters in a wide variety of colors to enable you to customize the holster to your personality.
8 OUTBAGS LOB2S-G26 Brown Genuine Leather
The Sunsmith AIWB holster is a very budget friendly holster option. Like the We The People holster, the Sunsmith offers a 1.5” wide belt clip to retain the holster in the position that you need it. While this holster allows you to wear it in more than just the AIWB position like the Vedder and We The People holsters. Where it differs in that Sunsmith offers it with a concealment claw to deter printing.
This appendix holster is made of .80 thick kydex ensuring a durable constructed holster. The holster’s design allows for up to 15 degree cant and completely covers the magazine release. For those of you tat are on a strict budget, this holster is a viable and comfortable option.
9 Raven Concealment VG2 Holster
Raven Concealment has been a solid performer for holsters that are on a higher end of the budget spectrum. Their VG2 holster is essentially a trigger guard that has an ambidextrous steel spring clip. This set up will keep your trigger safe from snagging on your clothing. The VG2 has these minimalist holsters for a variety of full-sized pistols; however, due to the weight and position of clip, compact or smaller pistols are ideal.
Your body would be exposed to the rigid angles of your pistol and may not be as comfortable as others on this list. But, the VG2 is really focusing on an option that is a quick fix. Should you be waiting on a custom and more permanent holster, or if you are just making a fast run to the store and do not want to use a larger holster, this would be easy to grab and use. This is meant to be an ‘outside-the-box’ option, for sure, in comparison to the other holsters on this list.
10 Sticky Holster
Lastly, the Sticky Holster is a sleeve style holster that is also an ‘out-of-the-box’ take on what a holster should be. Sticky Holsters are made from a non-slip material and uses friction from your waistband to stay in place. The holster is also padded with a layer of closed-cell foam for the best possible comfort from this method of carrying.
This holster is perfect for people who are very active or for more formal occasions where a belt may not fit your attire. It is also useful for those who do not want to leave their pistol at home while they head to the gym. This tuckable holster that will allow for free movement and will stay in place without belts or clips.
How to Carry AIWB Safely?
Safety should always be foremost in your mind. Many opponents to appendix carry state it is simply too unsafe to carry in this manner since the muzzle of the pistol is pointed at very sensitive areas. Admittedly, it is pointed at areas that are more vital to life than other methods of carry; however, there is a misconception that pistols will randomly discharge. Most good holsters will secure the trigger guard preventing the firearm from going off. In addition, depending on the type of pistol that you carry, internal and external safeties on the gun has advanced enough that only the intentional movement of the trigger will cause the ignition of the round. Fully concealing the trigger guard and ensuring you are properly holstering your pistol will mitigate 99% of negligent discharges (NDs).
When carrying AIWB, there will be some adjustments that will need to be made in holstering/drawing your firearm. First major priority when doing either act is ensuring that all cover garments are clear of the holster. This keeps clothing from tangling up in your trigger guard and possibly causing a ND.
Mark's drawing AIWB
The next adjustment is to slightly lean back when handling your firearm. Leaning back allows you to keep the muzzle pointed away from your body until the pistol is securely locked into the holster. This is also recommended when drawing your pistol. These adjustments will seem cumbersome at first; however, practice it will make it become second nature.
The final point to carrying AIWB safely is to have the correct belt for concealed carry. A carry belt should be rigid and sturdy. To test a belts ability to adequately hold your pistol and holster, neither item should cause the belt to fold over itself as you hold it from either end. If the belt does fold over, then it is not strong enough to support the holster, pistol and your pants at the same time.
AIWB vs IWB
Strong side inside the waistband carry, or commonly referred to as merely IWB, has some particular advantages. One main advantage to hip, or strong side, carry is covertly drawing your firearm. As tension rises in a potentially violently encounter, IWB carry allows you to turn you body away from your assailant to better conceal the fact that you’re armed and possibly your draw. This could give you the edge in surviving a violent encounter providing you are aware of your surroundings and are not ambushed.
In contrast, AIWB carry has an advantage over behind the hip IWB carry. You’re inherently able to protect your firearm better with it in front of you than you are from a different position. Remaining square to someone is your best defense in creating, or keeping, distance between you and your attacker. Once you have created enough distance, your hands will already be in front of you and more able to draw your pistol quickly.
There is also the perception that IWB carry is more comfortable than AIWB. It could be very true for some people; however, that is ultimately a matter of opinion. As mentioned before, AIWB can be just as comfortable as any other method of concealed carry like OWB, Ankle, Shoulder... depending on the pistol and holster you carry. Same with IWB, it can be very comfortable providing you accommodate the right pistol to the correct holster with the position that you would normally carry. A standard vertical IWB holster may work well with carrying at the 3 o’clock position; however, it may not work or feel comfortable at the 4 o’clock position.
Sitting down when AIWB carry?
Because of the added weight from your pistol and holster, it is natural for your rig to sit a little lower than your pants line. When sitting down than could cause some slight discomfort. Making a slight adjustment before sitting down will help. Pulling the front of your pants to allow your holster to rest more on your belly as you sit down seems the most helpful. You can disguise your movement to appear only as a typical pants adjustment as well.
How to minimize printing while appendix carrying?
As mentioned, several times in this article, one of the best pieces to minimize printing is integrating a concealment claw into the holster. Regardless if that is by design with the holster or purchasing one aftermarket and adding it to your existing holster.
What is the best type of holster for appendix carry?
The answer is completely subjective and may differ from person to person. However, marketing trends have seen the popularity of pistol holsters with integrated magazine caddies (also known as sidecar rigs) steadily rise. Companies like Tier 1 and T-Rex Arms has made a name for themselves on producing high-end sidecar holsters and there is usually a lead time due to the popularity.
How to make appendix carry more comfortable?
The first aspect to making AIWB carry more comfortable is aligning your preferred carry pistol with the right holster. Many holster manufacturers will have a 30-day money back guarantee which allows you at least 3 weeks to ensure a holster is right for you. Next, you may want to increase your pants buy one size to give you added room. This will make your waistline feel less constricting. Finally, you should ensure you are using a belt that is specifically made for concealed carry. A normal belt from Wal-mart will not cut it!
Appendix carry has become very popular; however, it may not be for everyone. If you are interested in AIWB, take your time and do not get frustrated. Finding the best appendix carry holster could take several attempts. Do not be afraid to experiment with your clothes, holster and even the pistol you choose to carry. Ultimately, the goal is to be ready and able to defend yourself not matter what the situation. Find what works, train with your equipment and when you’re confident, train some more.